Mary's here to pull farmers out of the mud and cut suicides
SUICIDE rates are alarmingly high among men in regional areas and one woman is determined to change the statistic, by pulling depression sufferers out of the mud.
Mary O'Brien has travelled the country for years, educating farmers about spray application and drift risk management and will hold a stall at Vanderfield's Crop Care Expo in Bundaberg this week.
In addition to her expertise in crop care, the Dalby local will raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention for country blokes.
Ms O'Brien started Are You Bogged Mate? after two farmers and well respected members of the Dalby community took their lives.
The tragedies shook the community, with many locals seeking Ms O'Brien for comfort as they tried to wrap their heads around how men who had never shown signs of struggle had suddenly ended their lives.
Ms O'Brien was willing to comfort her grieving friends and neighbours. She also felt that her lack of knowledge about mental health reduced her ability to support others.
"I started to research the topic and found all of these people saying how men needed to change and speak up, but expressing emotion is not textbook stuff," Ms O'Brien said.
"Out of frustration, I wrote this article called Are you bogged mate? and said rather than telling men how to act or trying to change them, we should be trying to understand how they are feeling by educating ourselves on how they communicate these emotions.
"The article really struck a chord and it ended up going viral and I was receiving so many incredible responses saying 'Finally, someone understands me' that I couldn't let it go and I decided to build my skillset."
Are You Bogged Mate? aims to make men in regional areas feel comfortable about talking mental health, reduce the associated stigma, raise awareness about the issue and connect victims with resources and support.
"Women talk it out to work it out but men, particularly rural men, think it out to work it out," Ms O'Brien said.
"Just because they don't express themselves or talk about emotions in a certain way, doesn't mean they aren't feeling those emotions.
If you have been feeling depressed, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300224636.